Monday, December 07, 2009

'We won't let sceptics hijack climate talks'

From the

Global warming scientists join attack on email theft as Copenhagen summit begins

It has been billed as the most important meeting for half a century, and yesterday, with 15,000 people in attendance, the Copenhagen Climate Conference opened with a robust and angry defence of the science of global warming by two of the world's leading climate science figures.

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the Nobel-Prize winning head of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC), and Dr Jonathan Pershing, the head of the US delegation to the conference, both hit out at the theft of emails from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, which has been used by climate sceptics in Britain, the US and elsewhere to allege that global warming is not man-made.

There has been widespread speculation that the timing of the theft represented a specific attempt to destabilise the conference, in which the world community will attempt to construct a new treaty to cut back on the emissions of carbon dioxide causing the atmosphere to warm.

But yesterday Dr Pershing said that all the incident had done was to "release a barrage of further information which makes clear the robustness of the science." He said it was "shameful" how some of the scientists involved were now being pilloried.

Dr Pachauri told the conference opening ceremony, presided over by the Danish Prime Minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, that some people clearly found it "inconvenient" to accept the inevitability of the changes that would have to be made in the face of the climate change threat.

"The recent incident of stealing the emails of scientists at the University of East Anglia shows that some would go to the extent of carrying out illegal acts perhaps in an attempt to discredit the IPCC," he said. "But the panel has a record of transparent and objective assessment stretching back over 21 years, performed by tens of thousands of dedicated scientists from all corners of the globe."

...Dr Pachauri listed for the conference – and for the world – some of the consequences global warming would lead to if it were left unchecked. They included widespread increases in droughts and floods, greater stress on water resources, increases in tropical cyclone intensity, more extinctions of wild species and the eventual melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which would cause sea levels around the world to rise by more than 20 feet.

Cutting back on the emissions responsible was now the urgent task of the "historically important meeting", he said. But it will not be a matter just for the thousands of delegates. Mr Rasmussen announced that the number of world leaders who would be attending the finale of the conference at the end of next week had now reached 110. He said: "Their presence reflects an unprecedented mobilisation of political determination to combat climate change. It represents a huge opportunity – an opportunity the world cannot afford to miss."

*European Union says it wants stronger commitments from the US and China to cut CO2 before raising its own ambitions.

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